When we started the GADA series, I knew the timing was sensitive for me. On one hand, it is by far my favorite genre of watches, so I was eager to write my contribution. On the other hand, I am deep in the process of developing my own but still a long way from completing it, so this article comes a couple of months early for me. That’s why I have decided to put my current favorite GADA watch up against the one I am developing. This is my current King Seiko SPB281 versus my upcoming VPC Type 37HW.

Actually, that makes it sound like a duel. Instead, I would rather focus on how my experience with my King Seiko influenced the VPC I am developing. So without further ado, let’s get stuck into it!

King Seiko SPB281 GADA watch

My current GADA watch — King Seiko SPB281

Let me start with the prerequisite disclaimer. I know the King Seiko is powered by a sub-par caliber in light of both the KS heritage as well as the price. I know Seiko 6R calibers are a red rag to a bull for some.

But to me, the SPB281 is a thing of beauty. I can stomach the caliber because of its great looks. I love the stubby case with its overpowering lugs. In fact, it is why I don’t like the new 6L-powered versions at all. They are balanced better, but that takes the soul out of the case. They look far less aggressive to me — dare I say a bit dull?

The SPB281’s vertically brushed dial, razor-sharp dauphine hands, and applied indices are close to perfection, at least in my eyes. Everything is much better finished than more affordable models are, bridging the gap between Seiko and its Grand counterpart. The bracelet is great too, especially at the price. And, in true GADA spirit, it is supremely versatile.

What makes it GADA?

To that point, I feel the definition of a GADA watch is personal. Of course, you could say that, technically, it should be suited for absolutely all occasions. But in real life, it should flourish in everything that you do. Or, in this case, every situation that I, specifically, may find myself in. That is what makes a watch GADA for me, in practice.

But I want my GADA watch to be overpowered for that type of use. I like the idea that my watch will shine even if I find myself in entirely atypical situations. I hardly ever swim, and I hardly ever dress up, for instance. So that certainly narrows the scope of what my GADA watch needs to be able to do. But I still like it, conceptually, if I can easily rely on the watch in those situations nonetheless.

This boils down to a triangle of characteristics for me. My GADA watch needs to be (1) mechanically durable, (2) stylistically versatile, and (3) subtle. The first two points are obvious. A GADA watch needs to technically withstand anything that occurs in daily life. It also needs to work in the office, on the weekends, and in any social situation from an aesthetic point of view. The last point, subtlety, is perhaps more of a personal demand on my end. I strongly prefer my GADA watches to be under-the-radar and slow-release charmers. I don’t want them to draw unwanted attention. In part, this has to do with safety. But I also feel that watches that ooze big money can be out of place in certain social contexts.

VPC Type 37HW dial design GADA watch

My future VPC Type 37HW

If you have stumbled upon my series Building A Watch Brand, you know what I have been up to. I am deep in the process of starting a niche watch brand of my own, VPC. I will not go into the project now as you can read all about it here. But I will go into the GADA specifics of it.

I am intentionally making my debut with a no-complications GADA watch. First of all, this is because it is my favorite genre but also because it is the perfect platform. If we get the design to sing in this format, it will be easy to adapt to a diver, chronograph, etc. Taking the GADA road allows us to develop a design language of our own that we can then build on. Starting with the cleanest, simplest watch in the envisioned lineup forces us to get the basic shape just right.

The VPC Type 37HW will follow the traditional GADA recipe of a steel case, decent water resistance, a steel bracelet, a fixed steel bezel, and strong lume. It will also feature a hand-winding caliber, which is another preference of mine. Later, we may do sports versions, such as a diver, with an automatic caliber. This debut watch will be a nice and slim hand-winder.

VPC Type 37HW test case GADA watch

Wearing a 3D-printed test case to find the perfect stance on the wrist. The gap-less strap fit is a key distinguishing trait.

How my KS experience influenced the VPC

The two GADA watches that have spent the most time on my wrist are my KS and my 1967 Rolex Datejust. Both experiences provide great input for the VPC. For starters, I love the smallish sizes but wanted just a tad more presence for the VPC. So I settled on a 37.5mm diameter with slightly longer and more aggressively curved lugs for a more prominent stance on the wrist. To my taste, the current 3D-printed test cases wear like a dream. They somehow feel neutral in size, not like a small watch at all but most certainly not large like modern, mainstream options either.

I felt the ideal GADA watch would be a hair thinner than the King Seiko, which comes in at 12.1mm thick. So we went to great lengths to keep the VPC in the low 9mm figures, including the domed sapphire. Another feature I wish my KS had is a screw-down crown. It doesn’t make any difference for water resistance, but it does for peace of mind. So I added it to the VPC, including a decoupling mechanism for pairing it with a hand-wound caliber.

My King Seiko happens to run at only a few seconds deviation per day at the time of writing. I decided to make the VPC a chronometer to guarantee similar performance. One thing I miss on the KS is a good micro-adjust clasp. It has a butterfly clasp, which I dislike, so this moved me to opt for a single-sided clasp with on-the-fly micro-adjustment.

Very early sketches of the Type 37HW

My future GADA watch

Whether the VPC Type 37HW becomes a reality or not still depends on whether I meet presale targets later this year. So there is a chance that it will not come into existence at all, although I will probably have a working prototype to enjoy myself. This would then be a unique piece that cost me more than a complicated Patek would have. Ouch, I don’t want to think about that scenario!

If I do succeed, I can imagine the VPC turning into my one true GADA watch. It is, after all, a highly personal vision of the perfect watch, as well as my very own brand. So I cannot envision a conversation like this:

“What do you do?”
“I run a watch brand called VPC.”
“Cool. What are you wearing?”
“A King Seiko.”

In short, then, the KS’s position in my collection is now under serious threat. As the owner of a watch brand, I can still envision wearing very special design icons from other brands, such as my Speedy, my DJ, and my Explorer II. But I don’t think my entry- and mid-level watches will get much wrist time anymore.

This is why the timing of this article is sensitive. At the moment, my King Seiko SPB281 is my GADA watch of choice. It is one of my favorite watches, and I would happily wear it for the rest of my life. But at the same time, there is a good chance it will leave my collection pretty soon. It is the Schrödinger’s cat of my watch collection.

You can find and follow VPC on Instagram.